Senior writer Joe Yeager discusses his main takeaways from Texas Tech's spring Red-Black scrimmage from Midland on Saturday afternoon.
The crowd was about like it’s been in the other Petro-scrimmages: around 7,000 if I’m being generous.
Pleased to hear the P.A. announcer call the game the “Red-Black Scrimmage.” For those not gray of beard and long of tooth, that is what the “Spring Game” was called from times immemorial. I never heard a good reason for ditching “Red-Black Scrimmage,” and it’s good to see its return.
Neither Nic Shimonek nor McLane Carter was particularly sharp in this one. Lots of high passes and balls behind receivers. Also some miscommunication between quarterbacks and receivers. Payne Sullins, who got numerous snaps in the second half, looked quite good however. He was confident, decisive, and the most accurate of the quarterbacks. Also—and this may or may not be significant—he was Tech’s quarterback when the No. 2 offense ran red zone plays late in the scrimmage. Could have been a reward for his good play earlier in the scrimmage, or it could have been part of the plan before the scrimmage began.
This is the only Tech football scrimmage I recall in which there were no turnovers. Heck, there was only one play—Johnathan Picone dropping a Xavier Martin lob—that was even close to being a turnover. It’s nice that the offense valued the ball so much, but a more disruptive and opportunistic defense would have been nicer. Teams that don’t create turnovers don’t win.
On the other hand, the defense was ahead of the offense today. The defense controlled the line of scrimmage on two thirds or maybe even three quarters of the plays in both running and passing situations.
The offensive line, as expected, is still very much a work in progress. There are several very talented players in the two deep, but they are young and they don’t have much experience working together as a unit. And the offensive line, more than any group in football, must work in concert. They are the world’s biggest and nastiest ballerinas, but if they’re not cohesive the production will flop. I fully expect the o-line to gel at some point and to be very good. The question is when?
D.J. Polite-Bray was my defensive MVP. He was the most physical player in Texas Tech’s back seven, doing full justice to Dwayne Slay’s old jersey number three. He was also solid in coverage with the exception of one pass interference call in a goal line situation. Naturally, it still remains to be seen how well Polite-Bray will hold in at cornerback against Big 12 passing attacks, but judging by his physicality, he will be on the field in one capacity or another. Safety seems like a natural option if corner doesn’t work out.
Having noted the offensive line’s struggles, it will come as no surprise to the reader that the ground game didn’t do much. Kliff Kingsbury has made generating explosive plays in the ground game a top priority, and it’s clear there is still much work to be done there. Justin Stockton, Demarcus Felton and Da'Leon Ward failed to crease the defense for big yardage. A scamper of approximately 10 yards by Felton may have been the long gainer of the day.
Speaking of explosive plays, there were few by the offense in general. Chalk that up to good coverage, decent pressure on the quarterback and inaccurate passing. Also, T.J. Vasher dropped a beautiful ball from Sullins that would have gone for about 40 yards.
I saw a fairly heavy dose of draws and zone reads from the offense in the ground game, and some pulling action from the guards. Defensively, David Gibbs dialed up quite a few blitzes. He never brought the house, but six rushers was a common sight.